Crossing the Bridge
I finally got the chance to do something I’ve wanted to do for years–walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m glad I waited to do it with someone who knew what they were doing–it never occurred to me to take the subway to Brooklyn and walk back! This way you have the spectacular view in front of you, instead of having to turn around every few minutes. Doing it in the morning is best, because the sun is behind you.
Before the Bridge walk, we took the subway to Brooklyn one last time. Here we are ordering breakfast in a great little cafe in Brooklyn Heights. After breakfast we took a short walk around the neighborhood, which is an upscale area. One of the landmarks here is the Plymouth Church, where Henry Ward Beecher preached in the 19th century. Beecher was a famous abolitionist who raised money to buy the freedom of many slaves. His sister was Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The church today is still a very progressive one.
I have always wanted to see this neighborhood because it’s where one of my favorite movies took place–this is where Cher lived, in an old brownstone townhouse, in Moonstruck! After passing through the neighborhood we climbed the stairs to get up on the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Bridge has carried subway trains as well as cars and pedestrians at various times. Now the upper deck is divided into pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and the lower deck is for cars only–no commercial trucks. Subways take the Manhattan Bridge, the next one to the north. Angela wisely advised us to treat the white dividing line between pedestrians and bicycles as if it were a curb–especially on the downhill slope, where the bicycles would have a hard time stopping for you (even if they wanted to).
This photo of commercial buildings on the Brooklyn side is full of history– it shows the Eagle warehouse building, which used to house the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper–written by Walt Whitman. Next to that is the Watchtower residence, owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Angela explained that after 9/11, many Wall Street workers were trying to walk home across the bridge because the subways were not running. The bridge is only 3/4 of a mile, but after that their homes may have been miles farther away. The folks living at the Watchtower invited them in and put many of them up until they were able to get to their homes.
I can’t say enough about the amazing views from the bridge. It was a perfect day, in fact the weather has been great all week. You can see the busy New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty. On the Brooklyn side is a new greenspace known as Brooklyn Bridge Park. Not to be outdone, Manhattan is now planning a similar spot on their side of the Bridge.
With crowds of tourists, anything that blocks part of the lane is a nuisance, and there are laws against what this fellow is doing–vendors are not allowed on the bridge, but several of them seemed to be getting away with it today. We did see several policemen but not in the same area.
At the end of the bridge we got a closer look at some of the iconic buildings of lower Manhattan. City Hall and City Hall park are at the foot of the bridge. One of the newest buildings is this Frank Gehry-designed residential tower. After a brief rest in the park, we continued toward the World Trade Center, where the new memorial is scheduled to open this weekend. The Transportation building won’t be finished for a while but some trains have started running through the area. We caught the subway back to our hotel and said goodby to all our new friends!
Here’s my favorite souvenir of the trip, from the Transit Museum gift shop–this is the perfect bag to fit under an airplane seat–it has the NYC subway map design.